Weevils proposed for Lake Bistineau

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The battle against giant salvinia on Lake Bistineau has led to local officials proposing a weevil farm to fight back against the invasive plant.

In May, the Bistineau Task Force and local police juries, Trailblazer RC&D began investigating ideas for control of the South American plant. Its high reproduction rate has led to the fern clogging many waterways since its discovery in 2006, both limiting access for Bistineau visitors and reducing quality of life for residents living on the lake.

This summer, the salvinia level had reached an astounding 1,550 acres of the lake, which is located near Minden and extending southward to Bossier Parish near Elm Grove.

Evan Thames, District Fisheries Biologist Manager, said the amount of salvinia is higher this year already due to the mild 2012 winter.

“Cold weather kills it,” Thames previously told the Press-Tribune. “It’s growing so fast that we’re utilizing different ways to keep up with it.”

Various efforts to control the aggressive plant included herbicide applications along with a series of draw downs. In spite of efforts by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and others, the rapid growth of the Salvinia has continued.

Experts believe weevils can reduce giant Salvinia growth citing research that shows weevils have been successful in controlling salvinia in other parts of Louisiana and the world.

An official committee was appointed and given the title of the “Salvinia Weevil Nursery Committee.” Appointed members include Bob Brotherton, Elm Grove; Pete Camp, Shreveport; Robert Dean, Shreveport; Gary Horton, Haughton; Chairman Steve Ramsey, Heflin.

Five committee meetings have been held, additional research has been conducted, and budgets have been developed.

The proposal is weevils will be grown in temperature controlled green houses and released in strategic areas in Lake Bistineau. Staff members will be hired to produce millions of weevils.

Trailblazer SWN committee is currently searching for property on Lake Bistineau that is strategically located and also offers access to water. The decision for property selection will be made based on “what is best for the project”.

Trailblazer Resource Conservation and Development is a 501c3, community development organization involving local, state and federal resources dedicated to meeting local needs in North Louisiana parishes. For more than 25 years, Trailblazer has established an outstanding record of successful projects under the leadership of a Board of Directors who are appointed by local governments and who serve in a volunteer capacity. In response to requests from the three local police juries in 2009, Trailblazer RC&D became actively involved in searching for solutions for Lake Bistineau and also in fostering cooperation from all stakeholders.